By BGen Robert Clements, USAF (Ret.)
VADM Norb Ryan USN Ret and Colonel Steve Strobridge USAF Ret , of the Military Officers Association of America, have made correcting this SBP issue one of the main goals of MOAA this year. It is such an important issue that will help so many folks regardless of whether we personally have SBP ourselves. There are some very sad cases out there that need fixing. So I am sending a personal appeal for your help.
Please read through the message and follow the directions visiting MOAA. By clicking on the “Cosponsor SBP Fixes” link you can send your senators and representative a MOAA-suggested message, so there's a stack of messages waiting when Congress reconvenes this week.
Please let me repeat. This is a number one priority of MOAA. Your action in this matter can change and make the lives of some very deserving military families and widows a lot more endurable in the time they have left. Please, will you spend just a few minutes and take action now? Chk6 - bob.
E-MAIL STORM COULD HELP END SBP INEQUITIES
As MOAA gears up for our annual “Storming the Hill” lobbying event, now is the time to e-mail your representatives to support our SBP inequities initiatives. Next week, MOAA's Board of Directors and State Council Presidents will descend on Washington, visiting every state's Congressional delegation.
They'll be urging fixes on two Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) problems: the unfair deduction of VA survivor benefits from SBP when the service caused the member's death and the delayed (2008) effective date of paid-up SBP coverage.
Currently, survivors receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) from the VA when the member's death is due to service-connected causes. But they're forced to pay for their own DIC by giving up $1 of their SBP annuity for every $1 from the VA. In many cases, such survivors are left with an annuity of only $993 per month.
Congress also inadvertently penalized older retirees by delaying the effective date of 30-year, paid-up SBP coverage until October 2008. Under current law, “Greatest Generation” retirees who signed up for SBP in 1972 will end up paying six years longer and 34% more SBP premiums than a member of the same grade and years of service who retired in 1978.
In the Senate, Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Jon Corzine (D-NJ) have joined to sponsor S. 185, a bill that would end the SBP/DIC offset effective Oct. 1, 2005.
On the House side, Representative Henry Brown's (R-SC) H.R. 808 would end the SBP-DIC offset while Rep. Jim Saxton's (R-NJ) H.R. 968 would move up implementation of paid-up SBP, both as of Oct. 1, 2005.
We need your help to ensure that these issues are fresh in legislators' minds when MOAA representatives arrive in their offices to ask for their co-sponsorship of these bills. You can help by visiting MOAA, so there's a stack of messages waiting when Congress reconvenes next week.
RYAN VISITS PENTAGON OFFICIALS
On Oct. 28, MOAA's President, VADM Norb Ryan, Jr., (USN-Ret.) sent a letter to the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) urging the Pentagon to implement premium conversion and flexible spending account (FSA) programs to let military members pay their TRICARE health and dental premiums and their out-of-pocket expenses for dependent care and health care on a pre-tax basis.
Military families are currently denied this important basic benefit-worth thousands of dollars a year in many cases, that virtually all other large employers offer routinely to millions of employees across the country. The government already offers these programs to all other employees who receive federal paychecks - including legislators and their staffers and senior defense civilians.
Admiral Ryan's letter urged Pentagon leaders to implement these programs as soon as possible if within their power, or to seek statutory authority in this year's Defense Authorization Act if there's a legal impediment our researcher couldn't identify.
Our troops and their families are shouldering heavy burdens for the rest of the country. MOAA believes strongly that they shouldn't be the last in line to have their financial interests protected under these programs.